TIPPING the scales at a staggering 23 stone, Tracy Arnold's weight was spiralling out of control.
The 48-year-old could barely walk without getting out of breath after years of gorging on family-size bags of crisps and chocolate biscuits.
And she struggled to find any clothes she could fit into, after ballooning to a size 28.
Determined to turn her life around, Tracy signed up to Slimming World and has since shed an incredible 11 stone in just 18 months.
And she admits she even managed to halve her body weight by including her favourite burger and chips into her diet.
Tracy, from Colchester, said: "I feel like a new woman since losing weight – in fact, I look so different that people who I haven't seen for a while often can't believe I'm the same person."
Tracy first realised what a toll her weight was having on her at the start of 2018.
She'd weighed over 20 stone for 15 years and it was gradually beginning to dawn on her just how much it was ruining her life.
Tracy told the East Anglian Daily Times: "My weight impacted on so many aspects of my life, from struggling to find clothes that I like to fit, to not being able to do simple everyday tasks without feeling tired and out of breath.
"Before I lost weight, I hated having my photo taken and whenever I saw pictures of myself, I didn't feel like my smile was real."
In March 2018, Tracy decided to sign up and started going to regular meetings.
While walking through the group's doors was the "hardest things she's ever done", Tracy soon found her feet and saw the pounds quickly drop off.
In particular, she was shocked that she could still lose weight and eat some of her favourite dishes.
I look so different that people who I haven't seen for a while often can't believe I'm the same person
She said: "I still enjoy all my favourite meals like burger and chips and roast dinners, but I've learned how to make small changes like using lean meat or cooking with low-calorie spray instead of oil or butter.
"It fits in so well with the rest of my family and we can all eat the same meals.
"I know that I haven't 'gone on a diet', this is a change that I've made for life and I have the tools I need to stay like this forever.
"People think slimming means going hungry, eating nothing but salad or obsessively counting every calorie you eat, but it's not like that at all at Slimming World.
"I love food and it's never once felt like I was on 'a diet' – in fact, people are always surprised at how much food I have on my plate and can't believe I'm losing weight eating so much without ever feeling hungry."
Tracy also started exercising and now includes regular swims, gym sessions and cycle rides in her daily life.
Within just 18 months, Tracy saw her dress size drop from a 28 to a trim size 12.
And her weight loss transformation is so remarkable that many people have failed to recognise Tracy in the street.
She added: "I've been overweight all my life and for the last 15 years have been over 20st. I'm so proud and happy to have reached my dream weight.
"For me though it's the change on the inside that have been the greatest – I'm happier, healthier and much more confident now.
"I've made so many friends at the group and I honestly don't think I could have done it without their support each week."
Tracy is hoping that her weight loss journey will inspire others to follow in her footsteps.
She is now running her own weight loss group at Queen Boudicca Primary School every Thursday, to help others achieve similar milestones.
Alice Turburville, who runs the Tracy's Slimming World group, said: "The changes we've seen in Tracy are incredible.
"I hope her success will inspire other people who'd like to lose weight by forming new lifestyle habits and as a result, become happier and healthier to come and join us."
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